News Release

Wealth does not dictate concern for the environment

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Stillwater, OK – July 24, 2008 – It has been a long-held assumption that poor nations will not support efforts to protect the environment since their citizens are too preoccupied with meeting basic needs, such as food and housing. However, a new study in The Sociological Quarterly reveals that citizens of poorer nations are just as concerned about environmental quality as their counterparts in rich nations.

Riley E. Dunlap, PhD, of Oklahoma State University and Richard York, PhD, of the University of Oregon compared results from four large cross-national surveys, each conducted in several dozen nations ranging with differing economic statuses. Representative samples of citizens were surveyed in each nation.

Results showed that citizens of poorer nations were equally if not more concerned about the environment compared to citizens in wealthier countries. The citizens of the poorer nations were supportive of efforts to solve environmental problems.

The authors believe that previous studies failed to recognize that environmental problems are often a threat to material welfare and not just quality of life. For example, deforestation may threaten the livelihoods of people who depend on forests for firewood, food sources, and economic products.

"Our results suggest that well-designed policies to promote sustainable development will have more appeal to citizens of poor nations than is often assumed," the authors conclude.


This study is published in the Summer 2008 issue of The Sociological Quarterly. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact

Riley E. Dunlap is affiliated with Oklahoma State University and can be reached for questions at

The Sociological Quarterly is devoted to publishing cutting-edge research and theory in all areas of sociological inquiry. Our focus is on publishing the best in empirical research and sociological theory. We look for articles that advance the discipline and reach the widest possible audience. Since 1960, the contributors and readers of The Sociological Quarterly have made it one of the leading generalist journals in the field. Each issue is designed for efficient browsing and reading and the articles are helpful for teaching and classroom use.

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